AT A GLANCE

  • According to BLS, almost 2.8 million workers are employed currently in temporary or contract positions
  • As per the Upjohn Institute for Employment Research, manufacturing companies comprise roughly 40 percent of the demand for temp workers
  • In March 2014, the temp industry added 28,500 jobs

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Jun 01, 2014

Temp Employment Becoming the New Norm

For many Americans, the thriving demand for temp workers has been more than a simple path out of post-recession unemployment. In contrast, temp positions have become the new norm of the working world. 

According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), about 2.8 million workers are employed currently in temporary or contract positions. And in just March 2014, the temp industry added 28,500 jobs.  Steve Berchem, chief operating officer of the American Staffing Association, believes that a shift towards companies using temporary workers is underway.

“We argued when the recovery began that there would be a structural shift. We were hearing that from members who were hearing that from their clients, (that) they were more likely to use temp and contract workers.” ~Steve Berchem, COO of the American Staffing Association.

Increasingly, industries not typically thought of as traditional temp workplaces are using more contracted workers. For example, adjunct professors at universities are beginning to say that they are temp workers of college classrooms. And according to the Upjohn Institute for Employment Research manufacturing companies comprise roughly 40 percent of the demand for temp workers.

Win-Win for Both Parties

This new normal in the market is a win-win for both companies and workers, particularly in terms of flexibility. Employers enjoy the elasticity gained with a workforce mix consisting of temporary workers, allowing them to ramp up or shed workers based on business cycles, demand, and market conditions. And workers are beginning to place a priority on family and work-life balance, which project-based work allows space for.

“Right now we’re seeing something interesting. We’ve seen it surpass its previous highs, so it looks like there could be a structural shift going on, too. There’s a reason to believe we might see some increase in the use of temporary help in general.” ~Susan Houseman, Senior Economist at Upjohn Institute for Employment Research.

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